In February 2018, Lukas Schretter spent three weeks conducting research at the University of Birmingham. He studied the history of unmarried motherhood in Great Britain in the 20th century, examined the efforts of the British non-governmental organisation “The National Council for the Unmarried Mother and her Child” to support mothers of “Besatzungskinder” (“Occupation Children”) after World War II, and participated in an ESR workshop on current research findings.
Non-governmental support for “Occupation Children” in Austria and Germany
Children born to Allied soldiers and Austrian or German mothers after World War II, commonly referred to as “Besatzungskinder”, often grew up in poor circumstances. In the late 1940s and 1950s, the British non-governmental organisation “The National Council for the Unmarried Mother and her Child”, today “Gingerbread”, supported these children and their mothers by launching campaigns targeted at the British government and other policy makers. Assisted by aid organizations and public officials, it tried to create the possibility for mothes of “illegitimately” born “Occupation Children” to claim financial support from British fathers. Furthermore, the “National Council” tried to get British fathers to make voluntary maintenance payments for their children and, at the same time, got involved for British children whose fathers were members of American or Canadian troops stationed in the country during World War II. Studying the activities of the “National Council” in the post-war period and beyond, Lukas Schretter made use of the facilities provided by the University of Birmingham and conducted research in archives in London.
ESR workshop on current research findings
In February 2018, Kanako Kuramitsu, Eleanor Seymour, Boniface Ojok, and Lukas Schretter organized a workshop on recent research findings of their respective PhD projects. While he was in Birmimgham, Lukas Schretter furthermore contributed to the seminar “Children born of war-related exploitation: a historical perspective on 20th century developments”, which was led by Prof. Sabine Lee and took place in the course “Holocaust and Genocide: Comparative and Interdisciplinary Perspectives” within University of Birmingham’s Postgraduate Master Studies Programme “Holocaust and Genocide Studies”. Lukas Schretter also participated in a collective writing session at University of Birmingham’s Graduate School.
Lukas Schretter is an Early Stage Researcher within the European-Union funded research network “Children Born of War. Past, Present, Future” (CHIBOW), based at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Research on Consequences of War in Graz, Austria. He writes his dissertation on children of British soldiers and Austrian women after World War II.